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Vertical axis water turbine (hereafter VAWT) is the common investigated equipment in tidal streams turbine generator system. In this paper, the flow fields around a VAWT were numerical simulated with emphasis on the hydrodynamic performance of VAWT. The simulations were undertaken with the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software FLUENT 6.2 using the sliding meshes controlled by user-defined functions (UDF). And the computational meshes were generated by GAMBIT 2.2 to achieve better mesh quality. The calculated results show that some obvious discrepancies exist in the hydrodynamic performance of VAWT operated in the flow fields of water channel and open water respectively.